The Los Angeles Lakers hiring of Luke Walton as head coach signaled a change in the organization. Gone were the days of old-school mindset and in its place a young coach full of new ideas.
Walton’s résumé was built by an interim stint coaching the Golden State Warriors during the 2015-16 season. Of course, being in charge of a ready-made Warriors team is much different than a young, growing Lakers roster.
Like the team, Walton has made progress in his second year. The Lakers are more entertaining and competitive on a nightly basis, and are far better defensively than they were just one year ago.
One player who has been intrigued with the growth of the Lakers is Warriors forward Kevin Durant. The reigning NBA Finals MVP admitted to following the team more closely since Walton was hired, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic:
“I’ve been a fan of the Lakers. Since Luke Walton came on, I’ve been following them a little bit more. I always enjoyed watching Luke coach and put his team in good positions. He did it [with the Warriors], he did it last year and he’s doing it now. They’re a young team, they’re getting better every day, getting better every game. They’re learning how to win.”
Learning how to win in the NBA is a difficult, and oftentimes long process, but the Lakers are making strides. They haven’t been blown out as regularly as they were in previous years, and they are currently on pace to win more than 30 games this season, something that hasn’t happened since 2013.
Growing pains can be frustrating, but it says something that a player of Durant’s caliber sees the progress occurring with the Lakers. The team is still far away from contention, but with the right moves, could find themselves right back in the thick of things.
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